By Grace Hochheimer, BTC Student
300 kids, a few dozen chaperones, and hundreds of volunteers all together running around Cole Field House. This is what Maryland Reads Day looked like on Friday, May 2, 2014.
Reads Day was the culmination of my whole semester as an intern with the America Reads Program. Maryland Reads Day is the end of the year celebration for all of the students who participated in the America Reads program throughout the year. The America Reads program works with first and second grade students in Prince George’s County of Maryland who are below grade level in reading. This involves one-on-one tutoring from one of our roughly 80 mentors each semester until hopefully they catch up to their classmates.
Reads Day is an opportunity at the end of the year for the mentees, or elementary school students, to come and see where their mentors, college students, go to school. Many of our students have the opportunity to be the first generation in their families to attend college and Reads Day is the perfect opportunity to give them their first look at a real college.
The day itself has taken months of planning, but it was so worth it when I saw all of the smiles and fun that the kids had throughout the day. We chose the book Caps for Sale as our theme for this year and it was a blast. The kids made monkey hats and mustaches to go with the theme of the characters and participated in tons of activities related to the book. They also got to watch a puppet show that involves reading and gets the kids to participate with lots of singing and fun.
The most fun part of the day, however, is always the reading. We recruited hundreds of volunteers to come spend two hours with the kids and sit in very small groups to read the book together. The kids have worked so hard all year to improve their reading skills and love to show off what they have learned to their reading volunteer on Reads Day. It is really a rewarding day that hopefully inspires some of the kids we have in the America Reads program to one day come to college, maybe even to be a Terp!